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Dean Zimmerman's New Paper Against Molinism

Molinism -- the view that God knows not only what free creatures do, will do and could do, but also what they would (freely) do in every possible circumstance -- is a popular view among contemporary Christian philosophers. William Lane Craig uses it to account for such things as the compatibility of the inspiration of scripture and human free will, the compatibility of freedom and foreknowledge, and the compatibility of a semi-exclusivist account of soteriology with the fact that many will never hear the gospel and will be damned. And it's arguable that Alvin Plantinga requires molinism for the success of his famous free will defense against the logical problem of evil (although some, such as Swinburne, deny this. Kenneth Perszyk argues that Plantinga's free will defense is doubtful with or without molinism).

Two common criticisms of molinism (cf. R. Adams, Hasker, et al.) are that (i) it leaves the counterfactuals of human freedom without a metaphysical grounding, and that (ii…

Nature Red In Tooth and Claw

I mentioned earlier that MIchael J. Murray was writing some books on two important problems for theism since at least the publication of Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and A Natural History of Religion: the problem of animal suffering, and the plausibility of naturalistic accounts of religious belief. Well, I've been meaning to post on this for a while, but Michael J. Murray's book-length reply to the problem of animal suffering, Nature Red in Tooth and Claw, is now available. It came out a couple of months ago. His book on naturalistic accounts of religious belief, The Believing Primate, which is an edited collection of newly-commissioned papers, is due to come out next April.

Notes on Draper's Article on Behe's Design Argument, Part 6: Are Direct Routes Really Impossible?

In this installment, I complete the series on Draper's critique of Behe's design argument from irreducible complexity.

I. Review and Setup
To review, recall that the article focuses on stage one of Behe's two-stage design argument, which argues that certain biochemical structures couldn't have arisen via gradualistic Darwinian processes. The argument of this stage crucially relies on his notion of irreducible complexity, where this is defined as a system "composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein removal of any of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning".[1] With this notion in hand, Behe argues that there are irreducibly very complex biochemical systems (e.g., the bacterial flagellum), and that these systems can't plausibly be explained in terms of gradualistic evolutionary processes. And the reason is that evolution can only create systems via direct and indirect evolutionary p…

Craig on the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

Although Craig has criticized the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument in a number of places, he offers a brief defense of it in The Rationality of Theism (Routledge, 2003, ed. Paul Copan and Paul Moser).

The Leibnizian cosmological argument depends on some version of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR). The standard formulation of PSR can be expressed as follows:

(PSR) There is a sufficient reason for the existence of (a) every object, and (b) every state of affairs, either in terms of something else or in terms of its own nature.

A standard criticism of the argument is that PSR(b) is false.[1] Craig states the criticism tersely: "There cannot be an explanation of why there are any contingent states of affairs at all; for if such an explanation is contingent, then it, too, must have a further explanation, whereas if it is necessary, then the states of affairs explained by it must also be necessary." (p. 114)

Craig defends the argument against the criticism by eliminating PSR…

Bradley Monton

Bradly Monton is a philosopher at UC Boulder. He's also an atheist. However, and perhaps surprisingly, he argues that intelligent design is a legitimate category of explanation in the sciences (in that actions of non-human intelligent agents are detectable in principle, and that appeal to such agency is legitimate in principle in the sciences). Also, he thinks ID should be taught in schools, along side evolution. He's coming out with a book on the topic: Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design.

Another point about Monton: he thinks the fine-tuning argument, although ultimately unpersuasive, is stronger than many philosophers think. See (perhaps) his most important paper of his on this, "God, Fine-Tuning, and the Problem of Old Evidence", British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (2006), pp. 405-424.

I agree with him about virtually all of this, and I can't wait to read his book. The reason: I've read the following books and articl…

Two Types of Design Argument

Two Types of Design Argument:

Type I: The Classical (“Old School”) Design Argument:

-This version is an argument from analogy.
-It typically appeals to living organisms and their parts as cases of apparent design

1. Human artifacts are intelligently designed.
2. Living organisms and their parts resemble/are analogous to human artifacts (in that they both are complex and their parts that work together to perform a function).
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3. Therefore, probably, living organisms and their parts are intelligently designed as well.

-Paley’s version is the most important version of the classical version of the design argument.
-However, this form of the design argument is seldom used today, due to the criticisms we’ve discussed. However, philosophers have come up with a new version of the design argument:

Type II: The Contemporary (“New School”) Design Argument:

-This version is not an argument from an analogy. Rather, it's formulated either in terms of confirmati…

Criticisms of William Dembski's Design Inference -- By Christians

The following is a short list of articles (and chapters) critiquing Dembski's design inference. They are all written by Christian philosophers.

Del Ratzsch:
Appendix: "Dembski's Design Inference", in Nature, Design and Science. SUNY Press, 2001 (in the Philosophy and Biology Series).

Robin Collins:
“An Evaluation of William A. Dembski’s The Design Inference,” in Christian Scholar’s Review, vol. 30:3 (Spring 2001).

MIchael J. Murray:
"Natural Providence (or Design Trouble)", Faith and Philosophy 20:2 (July 2003), pp. 307-327.
-"Natural Providence: Reply to Dembski", Faith and Philosophy 23:3 (2006), pp.337-41.

Timothy McGrew:
"Toward a Rational Reconstruction of Design Inferences", Philosophia Christi 7:2 (2005), pp. 253-298.

Obama Our New President-Elect!!!

A landslide victory for sanity, competence, and goodness.